Operation Iraqi Freedom

What a Flournoy Pentagon Could Mean for the Air Force

Michèle A. Flournoy, the former under secretary of defense for policy, has emerged as the frontrunner to take over as Defense Secretary once the presumptive President-elect Joe Biden takes office in January. If nominated and confirmed, she would lead a Pentagon facing down either flat or declining budgets. After years of focus on “great power competition” under the National Defense Strategy while continuing wars in the Middle East, a rising deficit and a realignment of priorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic will likely force the Pentagon to shift its priorities. In recent writings and speeches, Flournoy has hinted at what her top priorities would be in the department, including investing in emerging technologies, such as the Air Force's Advanced Battle Management System, and focusing on ways to make current systems more survivable and capable verses large new acquisition programs like is typical for new aircraft and carriers. “Defense budgets are probably going to flatten in the coming years, no matter who wins the election,” Flournoy said in August. “That means you have to make tradeoffs. That means you have to make many hard decisions. It means you probably need to buy fewer legacy forces in order to invest in the technologies that will actually make the force that you keep more relevant, more survivable, more combat effective, and better able to underwrite deterrence.”
Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson

USAF’s Longest-Serving Vice Chief Retires

Gen. Stephen W. “Seve” Wilson retired Nov. 13 after 39 years of service, ending his tenure as the Air Force’s longest-serving vice chief of staff. Wilson, who is replaced as USAF’s No. 2 by Gen. David W. Allvin, served four years and four months in the role, surpassing the previous record set by Gen. Curtis M. Lemay, who served in the role from July 1957 to 1961. Throughout his career, Wilson accumulated more than 4,600 flight hours and 680 combat hours in B-1s and B-2s. He previously served as commander of Air Force Global Strike Command and the deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command before joining now-retired Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein to lead the service. As the 39th vice chief of staff, Wilson led initiatives such as Spark Tank, the Vice Chief’s Challenge, and he partnered with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to create an “artificial intelligence accelerator.”
U.S. Capitol

Senate Weighs in on Space Force Transfers, Procurement

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s version of the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill looks to continue shaping the young Space Force with provisions on personnel and acquisition. Lawmakers are offering the Space Force $2.6 billion for operations and maintenance, $2.2 billion for procurement, and $10.4 billion for research and development in 2021. Other aspects of the new service’s funding still come from the broader Department of the Air Force. In the legislation released Nov. 10, senators added language on military transfers into the Space Force, the National Security Space Launch program, and the Evolved Strategic Satellite Communication effort.
Official portrait - Lt. Gen. David Thompson

Space Force No. 2 Returns to Work After COVID-19 Diagnosis

Space Force Vice Chief of Space Operations Gen. David D. Thompson returned to work at the Pentagon on Nov. 9 following a nearly two-week quarantine period to recover from the coronavirus. Thompson tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 28 after being in close contact with a family member who also contracted the virus. He was asymptomatic when he was confirmed positive. The Department of the Air Force did not offer any additional information about Thompson’s bout with the deadly virus.
Brig. Gen. Darrin P. Leleux

EMS Not its Own Domain of Warfare, Strategy Implementer Says

Although the Pentagon has contemplated designating the Electromagnetic Spectrum as a combat domain, it is no longer thinking that way, the officer in charge of developing an EMS strategy implementation plan said Nov. 12. Air Force Brig. Gen. Darrin P. Leleux said EMS is considered an element of every other of the five combat domains, and for now will be treated as an enabler of those. He also said the recently released EMS strategy does not yet have a cost or budget associated with it.

CMSAF: Don’t Expect Major Changes to Enlisted Promotions in Near Future

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne S. Bass recently teased potential reforms to how the service assesses and promotes enlisted Airmen, but troops might want to strike any major promotions-related changes from their wish lists this holiday season. “There’s no changes for enlisted promotions in the very short-term future,” Bass said during an informal Facebook town hall with Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown Jr. on Nov. 13.

Radar Sweep

Snapshot: DOD and COVID-19

Air Force Magazine

Here's a look at how the Defense Department is being impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

US Army Aims to Convert Navy Missiles for Remote-Launched Strikes

Defense One

The U.S. Army is working to convert Navy missiles into land-based mid-range weapons that complement its short-range rockets and long-range hypersonic missiles. If experiments prove out, the new missiles and their launchers will be added to the Army’s connect-everything network so that soldiers can fire them remotely or in concert with other batteries.

Army to Activate Two Iron Dome Batteries at Fort Bliss

Inside Defense

“These actions are part of the Army’s force realignment initiative, which involves the conversion of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery and realignment of resources from the U.S. Army Air Defense Artillery School,” a Nov. 13 Army press release states. “The stationing will be completed by Nov. 16, 2020, and will result in an additional 26 personnel stationed at Ft. Bliss.”

Podcast: Interview With Space Development Agency Director

Aviation Week’s Check 6 podcast

Space Development Agency Director Derek M. Tournear joins Aviation Week editors to discuss how its system of space tracking and transport satellites will revolutionize the U.S. military and the challenges it will face along the way.

One More Thing

An F-35 Pilot Reveals Why Good Fighter Pilots Never Skip Leg Day

Task & Purpose

Unlike a long car ride, there are no rest stops to stretch and get a Big Mac. So how do you stay alert, comfortable, and healthy while flying a multi-million dollar jet armed with explodey bits? And when the bullets start flying, how do you deal with the strain of G-force? F-35 instructor pilot Maj. Justin “Hasard” Lee took the time to tell Task & Purpose about the human side of flying a high-performance aircraft.